What is Buddhism all about? :: Source Enlighten

What is Buddhism all about?

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is an eastern philosophy that derived from a man named Siddhartha Gotama. Siddhartha Gotama, (Buddha), was born into a royal family in Nepal around 563 BC. When he reached 29, Buddha experienced discontentment, he observed other people’s suffering, especially those living in poverty and wanted to find meaning to life.

Even with his wealth and status he was still not content and knew that material possessions and wealth were not the source of happiness, so he decided to leave his family and explore other worldly religions and philosophies. After studying for six years the Buddha found the middle path and became aware of his enlightened state at the age of 35.

After he realised he was “enlightened” Buddha taught the Dharma, “Truth”, to his followers until he reached the age of 80 when he died. During his teachings the Buddha never claimed to be a God, he was an ordinary man who became aware of his natural enlightened state. He then went on to teach this path to others, based on his own life experiences and his own truth.

Today, there are approximately 300 million people around the world who are Buddhists and the number is growing. More people are waking up and realising that possessions and material obsessions are not the source of happiness.


How can Buddhism help?

Buddhism can help us because it provides a code of practice for us to follow so that we can find our true happiness. It offers us more than a set of beliefs as it gives us a guide on how to act and to live. Buddhism can offer us many answers, especially in more materialistic countries in the west as it teaches us the practice of non-attachment. It also includes a deep understanding of the human mind which psychologists are now discovering to be effective, especially the practice of mindfulness.

What is Buddhism beliefs and teachings?

Buddhism goes beyond a set of beliefs, to be a true Buddhist is a way of life. It involves making a commitment in your life through living by the noble truths. As a result of living by those truths, you will come to realise your natural enlightened state. The main principles are to lead a moral life, being mindful of your thoughts and actions, including the practice of least harm and to develop wisdom and understanding. What’s more, Buddhism places a lot of emphasis on serving others before yourself, it’s through the act of serving others that we find contentment.

One of the Buddhist teachings is that wealth does not guarantee happiness, neither does material possessions as they are all impermanent objects. When we become attached to an object, even a person, our happiness depends on holding onto to that object, once that perishes we are sad. But if we come to realise that the only thing that we can be certain of is change and that all things come to an end then we can, if we practice non attachment, find a balance in life.

The Buddha’s path to enlightenment was taught through the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

The First Noble Truth

Life is suffering. It’s a fact that we all experience pain, old age and death. We also go through psychological suffering like witnessing the ones we love die, loneliness, fear, disappointment, heartache and anger. Buddhism helps us to realise this fact, once we are aware of it and are realistic about life, Buddhism offers us a solution to this so that we can find happiness.

The Second Noble Truth

The second noble truth is that suffering is caused by desire and craving. The more we desire things outside ourselves the more disappointed we become if we can’t get those things. The same can be said for wanting a certain status in life, if we don’t get there, we feel like a failure. But these external things can’t last forever, they are subject to the cycle of birth and death. So placing our self-esteem and happiness in these things guarantees disappointment. We will also suffer if we expect other people to conform to what we want, like wanting other people to like us. Because getting what we want does not guarantee our happiness, there will always be something else that we desire.

If you change your desire for that external object, you won’t become disappointed If you don’t get it and the less desires and wants you will have. Desires and cravings eventually deprives us of contentment. The more we desire and crave for things a powerful energy is created, this energy doesn’t die out when we die, our bodies perish but the desire is built up and carries on. It’s this circle that causes an individual to be reborn and is the cycle of samsara.

The Third Noble Truth

The third noble truth is that we can overcome suffering and find happiness. This can be achieved if we give up cravings that don’t serve us through learning to live each day at a time, do not dwell in the past or in the future, stay in the now. The more we live in the past through regrets and the future through wants, the less energy we have to live in the now. If we live in the present, the less we concentrate on ourselves and the more energy we will have to help other people, this is Nirvana.

The Fourth Noble Truth

Finally, the fourth truth is that the Noble 8-fold Path is the path that will lead us to the end of suffering.

The Noble 8 Fold Path

The basic premise of the Noble 8-fold Path involves, being moral through right speech and right livelihood, practicing mindfulness through focusing the mind on the present and being consciously aware of our thoughts and actions and develop wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and having compassion for others.

The Moral Code of the 5 Precepts in Buddhism: –

The moral code is the precepts, the main five are

  1. Do not kill any living being
  2. Do not take anything that has not been given to you freely
  3. Refrain from sexual misconduct and overindulgence
  4. Do not say something that is not true
  5. Avoid intoxication and losing mindfulness

Karma in Buddhism

Karma is the law in the Universe in which every action produces a reaction, each cause has an effect. All the actions that we take will produce a result. Karma highlights the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions.

Wisdom and Compassion in Buddhism

Buddhism teaches us that wisdom should be grown with compassion. On one end of the spectrum you could be a person with a good heart, but foolish with this, or you could gain knowledge without any emotion. Buddhism teaches us to use the middle path and to develop wisdom and compassion together. In Buddhism, true wisdom is not believing what we are told but instead to experience and have an understanding of truth and reality. To be wise you need to have an objective and open mind. The Buddhist path requires you to develop courage, patience, flexibility, and intelligence.

In Buddhism compassion includes certain qualities such as providing comfort for someone, to share, to sympathise and a concern and caring for others. In Buddhism, we can begin to understand other people when we can understand ourselves better.

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